TOCA Race Driver
The original TOCA and it's sequel were big hits on both the PC and the Playstation. Along with the Colin McRae Rally series they made Codemasters a firm favourite with driving game fans. For well over a year now the games press has been filled with news of sequels to both games. The third in the TOCA series is now finally here and the series has taken a different turn. This time the developers have decided to wrap a story around the racing. Of course this can work if carried out correctly but it can also stifle the gameplay somewhat. In the case of TOCA Race Driver, I think the end result is somewhere in between those two extremes.
Of course the story mode for deaf gamers is going to rely on there being subtitles and because there aren't any, the whole thing collapses. The introduction sets the scene to the game but without subtitles it's useless, which is a shame. Things like after race cutscenes, where a driver you may have smashed into during the race walks up to you and verbally abuses you, are not subtitled. Even during the races there are radio transmissions that are not subtitled. It is these different elements that the developers have added that, through the omission of subtitles, are missing for deaf gamers.
Basically the story follows the career of Ryan McKane. Initially you'll be at the bottom of the TOCA ladder and you'll have to fight your way to the top by meeting a series of ever increasing challenges. There are 42 cars and 38 racing circuits in the game. There are even around a dozen championships to take part in. As well as the career mode there's a time trial mode and LAN and Internet multiplayer modes. In fact it is fair to say that in terms of options, it's excellent.
Visually the game is a big improvement from the PlayStation 2 version. The framerate is wonderfully smooth on our review PC and a drop in frames only occurred whilst watching a replay. The handling is also far better than in the PlayStation 2 version. Of course PC steering wheels are far superior to those found on a console, but even when using the cursor keys it feels much better than before. The damage models are very good, something that GT3 would have been a lot better for, and your control of the car deteriorates with damage taken to the body and wheels.
It's a real shame that the game isn't subtitled as that would have enhanced the experience for deaf gamers. It isn't much fun seeing cutscenes that are supposed to carry the story along without subtitles. They just don't make any sense to the deaf gamer. Concentrating solely on the driving aspects though TOCA Race Driver is enjoyable and challenging and driving fans should definitely give it a go.
Overall Game Rating: 7.2/10 No complaints with the driving side of the game. The niggles with handling and framerate that plagued the PlayStation 2 version have all been sorted out. It's a shame that subtitles weren't added though.
Deaf Gamers comment: No subtitles anywhere. The nature of the game means that you can still get enjoyment from the title but it is disappointing that given the emphasis on the story that subtitles were not used.